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I know I keep saying that I'm not a big fan of short stories, but I did like Steven Millhauser's previous collection, "We Others", and I enjoyed his latest as well. There seemed to be a lot of stories about things going wrong in small towns, but there was a really good one about a son going to visit his mother, whom he hadn't seen in a long time. They were all pretty good.






"White Out" by Michael W. Clune is a memoir about his heroin addiction. It was interesting, although I would have preferred more details, like how exactly it started. I suppose sometimes it's hard to say, he seemed to be a normal middle class college student who just started doing heroin and got hooked. I'm glad he made it out of his addiction spiral and seems to be doing fine now, I know how hard it is for drug addicts, especially heroin users, to break that cycle. Evil stuff.





I loved my BlackBerry. I got my Storm 2 in October of 2009, the day it came out, and I was so excited, other than the LG Chocolate I had previously I'd never been excited for a phone before or since. I had that phone for almost 5 years, finally replacing it with an Android in 2014. It still worked pretty well, and I was sad to part with it, but what killed BlackBerry for me was the lack of apps. I was even willing to overlook the 3 days in 2011 when their servers went down and I lost my crackberry for the first time and I realized how addicted I was to the damn thing. "Losing the Signal" was a great story about the meteoric rise of an underdog little Canadian company, Research in Motion (RIM). How one tiny misstep led to their complete downfall. It was heartbreaking, truly. I'd love for BB to make a comeback and provide some much needed competition in the smartphone market. I don't like only having two different types to choose from, honestly (I don't count Windows phones, since they have such a small market share). I definitely don't want a phone like everyone else in the world has, either, which is why I won't own an iPhone. I'm afraid BB's time has come and gone.

The latest Temperance Brennan book by Kathy Reichs was really good. Tempe is contacted by a woman who is a cybersleuth, trying to help find missing persons using online tools. She believes some unidentified remains that Tempe found belong to a young girl whose family claims she isn't even missing. No one has seen the girl in years, but the family says she ran off with some boy and they aren't concerned about her. Tempe is reluctant to dig in at first, but once she does she finds that nothing is as it actually seems. I enjoyed it, plus, bonus, it looks like Tempe and Detective Ryan are moving in together! Not quite marriage, but I'll take it :)



"Fables: Vol. 21" by Bill Willingham was pretty good, too. It seems like he might be gearing up to end the run, he's wrapping up loose ends. Rose Red discovers that the former Mrs. Spratt has been controlling Bigby through her glass ring and takes it from her. She also discovers that she and Snow are locked in a battle they cannot escape: due to a longtime family curse, only one daughter can inherit the power, so they cannot both survive. One has to kill the other. It looks like Rose is going to try to use Bigby to kill his wife. Oh boy...




There is no way I could succinctly summarize Mark Z. Danielewski's latest. I can't even begin to try. It was fascinating, though, and very good, extremely readable, despite its brick like appearance. The book takes place over the course of one rainy day in May, following a group of people from all over the world, although mostly in L.A. At the heart of the book is a young girl named Xanther, who is going with her stepdad to pick up a highly trained dog that should help her with her epilepsy. I'm excited for the next volume, to see how all these seemingly random people's stories tie together.  

Like most people, I was quite excited when I first heard that Harper Lee had finally consented to have another one of her books published. After reading so much about her over the years, and her adamant assertions that she would publish nothing else while living, I assumed I would have to wait for the sad day of her death. But then the details of *how* this book came to be emerged, and I got an icky feeling about not only the content but about Ms. Lee being taken advantage of. Nevertheless, I wanted to read it, because I did enjoy "Mockingbird" so much.
The first two-thirds or so were good. I can see why her publisher wanted her to write a different book from Scout's point of view: the best parts are the childhood flashbacks. Her humor is dead on sharp and her Southern sarcasm is so thick as to smother you, which I enjoyed. But then the last third of the book became a lecture on race relations in the South, and when I finished the book I realized there was no story. No plot. Nothing happened. It just was. I really hope this doesn't destroy people's love of "To Kill a Mockingbird", and make them think less of Harper Lee as a writer. Clearly if she was in her full capacity this book wouldn't have seen the light of day. If you read it for what it is, a draft, unfinished, unpolished, then it's okay, but if you're expecting greatness, you'll be disappointed.

I loved "The Cartel" by Don Winslow. Wow, what a ride. It takes place over about a decade and dives into the drug wars in North America. Keller is determined to get Adan Berrera, and the drug kingpin is imprisoned, but allowed to escape by a corrupt government and Keller spends the next ten years or so trying to hunt and bring him down. Winslow does an excellent job of highlighting the pointless, ugly brutality of drug violence and the utter hopelessness and pointlessness of trying to fight these insanely wealthy and well connected criminals. It was so good.

I'm not a big fan of short stories, but I read another collection of Leonard's short stories and I liked it, so I thought I'd five this one a go. It wasn't bad, the stories were mostly a mix of old West tales with some stuff from the 1950s. A lot of "trespasser in the woods" type of stuff. Most were pretty forgettable but a few were good. At any rate, it was a quick read. I just wish he would have written more Raylan Givens stories before he passed away. I really enjoyed those.

The Last Town

"The Last Town" by Blake Crouch is the third Wayward Pines book, and hopefully, based on how it ended, not the last. It veered off sharply from the TV show in this one. After David Pilcher shut off power to the fence and opened the gate to let the abbies in, most of the town is slaughtered. Ethan Burke and his family manage to hide and escape the massacre, and Ethan is able to bring in reinforcements from David's mountain to kill the abbies in town, restore power, and close the gate. Adam Hassler has returned from his scouting mission with grim news: abbies are everywhere, and the rest of the world is gone. The town is facing a real dilemma: their food supplies are running out, and within four years they'll be facing starvation. They can't move the town, based on Hassler's reports, and they don't have enough time to grow food to stock their reserves, so the townspeople make a bold decision: they'll go back in suspended animation and wake up in the future, hoping that it will be kinder and not as bleak. All right, Mr. Crouch, let's get crackin' on book four please! :)

Normal

"Normal" by Graeme Cameron is about an unnamed serial killer who likes to keep women locked up in a cage in his basement. He's playing a dangerous game with the local police, who have him on their radar after the disappearance of a prostitute leads them to him. The killer has also fallen in love, of sorts, with a girl named Rachel. At one point I thought I had the twist figured out: that Rachel would be a serial killer and be trapping *him* but I was wrong (and disappointed, that would have made for an excellent book!). The killer also has a young woman named Erica locked up in his cage, and because of his distraction with Rachel it's causing him to do stupid things with Erica. The book lost a little bit of believability for me at the point when Erica had a chance to escape and instead came back to him, because living with a guy who keeps you locked up in a cage is better than living with your stepfather. Um...no. It was still a good story and I liked the ending.

The final volume of Jeff Lindsay's highly entertaining Dexter Morgan series did not disappoint, unlike the ending of the TV show. Jeesh. Anyway, poor maligned Dexter is in jail, accused of a crime he didn't commit: the murder of actor Robert Chase. Detective Anderson is determined to nail Dexter for the crime, going to great lengths to frame him. Even Dexter's sister Deborah thinks he's guilty. Luckily his biological brother Brian comes to his rescue and hires a high powered attorney to represent Dexter. Dexter is suspicious of Brian's motives, and soon learns why he's being so generous: he stole a great deal of money from a drug lord named Raul, who is sending hit men after him. Brian wants Dexter's help in getting rid of these killers. Dexter keeps being mistaken for Brian and has a couple of close escapes before Raul kidnaps his and Deborah's kids. Desperate to get them back, Deborah agrees to team up with Dexter and Brian and goes on the hunt for Raul and the kids. The ending was highly satisfying, although I will be sad to see Dexter go, he was always so much fun to read about.

I wasn't really into Sara Shepard's "Good Girls", the sequel to "The Perfectionists", until about 2/3 of the way through when she tossed a wicked good twist in there. One by one, the people the girls wished were dead in film studies class are turning up murdered. They don't know if someone overheard their discussion and is killing people off for them, or, even worse, if one of them is the killer. Julie is worried for her friend, Parker, who is getting more and more uncommunicative. After being missing for several days, Julie finally tracks Parker down, and Parker confesses to the crimes. Julie promises to protect her best friend. The other girls confront Julie at a Halloween party, convinced she's the killer, and Julie tearfully breaks down and admits it's Parker. The other girls are horrified: Parker's been dead for over a year. Julie refuses to believe it, and is arrested, sent to a mental hospital for treatment, but she escapes. All right! Now we're getting somewhere :)

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